There is perhaps no cheaper way to extend the life of a song than the “dubstep remix,” but when it comes to extending the life of Tommy Wiseau’s cult crapsterpiece The Room, giving the film its own dubstep remix is perhaps a notch above explicitly trying to recreate the film’s unintentional awfulness. Plus it’s got a beat and you can dance to it. So put it on and have a beautiful party and invite all your friends. Good thinking! [Comedy Central]
Superchunk was featured on ABC News recently, eating noodles at Momofuku Noodle Bar and generally rocking. If you watch the whole thing, you'll even see a reference to The A.V. Club. (Also, why is The Man always trying to co-opt our shit?)
Any fan of Cursive or The Good Life knows frontman Tim Kasher favors the darkest parts of his personality for inspiration. There’s no emotionally gutting experience he won’t mine for a new set of uncomfortable songs, particularly if it gives him an opportunity to espouse an especially brutal kind of frankness. And that discomfiting closeness is all over his solo debut, The Game Of Monogamy, which I recently reviewed. It's another semi-concept album with a plot arc, so it’s hard to tell how much of it is Kasher himself and how much is a character he plays. But even if it isn’t autobiographical (“The Prodigal Husband” seems a at least a little personal), The Game Of Monogamy is an overwhelmingly bleak album, even when tempered by cheery melodies and quick tempos. To read the lyric sheet is to feel utterly unnerved about the survival prospects of any romantic relationship. Here are a few highlights.
And there’s no more charity—
yeah, we both stopped servicing—
but we’re definitely missionary:
our official position ...
Cold love is all that we know.
Cold love, no warmth, no devotion.
Cold love—it only takes a few ...
Last weekend I was invited down to Austin to appear on a panel titled “The New Criticism?: Academia, Journalism, and Digital Critics” as part of Flow Conference 2010, a biannual meeting of TV-focused academics from around the world, sponsored by The University Of Texas’ on-line forum/journal FlowTV. Because of work obligations, I wasn’t able to check out as much of the conference as I would’ve liked. I attended an evening program in which we screened the first episode of the now-cancelled Fox series Lone Star and had a Q&A with the show’s creator Kyle Killen, and then I sat on my panel the following morning, had a few meals in between with people I’d previously only corresponded with on-line, and rested up for an early flight back home. For more details on the Lone Star event (which was supposed to be a screening of the show’s third episode, before the cancellation changed those plans), I refer you to the detailed report on Myles McNutt’s Cultural Learnings blog. For more details on the panel, I refer you to this page where you can download my response paper and those of my fellow panelists ...
Let’s face it: Your photographs and their attempts at “realism” are far too dull and pedestrian for a modern audience. Today’s photo-viewing public demands escapist fantasy: hyper-stylized special effects, dangerous stunts, and the illusion that Shia LaBeouf is an action star. Fortunately, now you don’t have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars tearing up the thoroughfares of various major cities or risking the lives of poorly paid extras to get that crucial element of “kick ass” that can upgrade your images from straight-to-Facebook non-starters to overnight blockbusters. All you need is the Bayifier, which allows anyone to transform their boring photos into something that would briefly hold the attention of big-time Hollywood director Michael Bay. Simply upload your precious memories, then awesome them up through the addition of fireballs, guns, and sexy sports cars. That’s how you put asses in seats.
For instance, here’s one I did using one of the otherwise-interesting-only-to-me photos of my cat, of which, like most cat owners, I have literally hundreds. But now look at it! It's totally in your faces!
Here’s history coming alive—alive like a motherfucker. Look out! That starving Californian migrant worker has ...
Todd: As I've come to the end of the New York Television Festival and as I've seen the films that won the big prizes (recounted below), I've been wondering more and more about my opening essay: Is the world of independent TV possible? And if it is, is something like the New York Television Festival the way to get to that world? The answer to the first question, I'd say, is yes. The answer to the second is a very qualified maybe.
I know the answer to the first question is yes because I saw enough pilots at the NYTVF that were, frankly, better than the pilots that got on the air for the major networks this year. Gentrification was better than any comedy pilot this fall, and it had the bonus of actually feeling like a real TV show. Other shows, like The Stalkers, Pointless, and Jack In A Box, felt less like TV shows but certainly could become TV shows with the right sets of notes and network support. I'm less concerned that the independent-TV model will come to fruition because the content is there. Someone will figure out a way to make ...
As the New York Television Festival's pilot-screening process draws to a close, I'm struck by how many different projects seem to have picked up some buzz among the relatively small audience that has been attending these things. Despite the fact that every screening is free (unless you buy a ticket at the site, where there's a $4.50 one-time printing charge), there are very few passers-by who just happen to wander in, unless they know someone involved with the project. From talking to long-time hands, the festival has been shrinking for a few years now, which may account for its personality crisis, wherein it seems unable to know if it's an independent TV festival or a panel-discussion series about TV. And yet the quality of the submissions is usually pretty high. I've been reasonably entertained by almost everything and gobsmacked by the quality of a few programs.
And yet everyone who's been checking out the different pilots has a different favorite. That speaks to the quality of the entries, but it also might speak to how everyone has a different idea of what independent television might look like. The old-school guys tend to list ...
In the current TV landscape, the big deal is drama. There are a lot of great comedies on the air, but the shows that really get TV fans talking, that get those "I don't own a TV people!" to fess up to watching something, are dramas. Mad Men. Breaking Bad. Sons Of Anarchy. Boardwalk Empire. Hell, even True Blood and Fringe. Those are the shows that seem to inspire the most mad passion from people, even if they all draw audiences much, much smaller than NCIS does. But at the New York Television Festival, the big deal is comedy. There are eight whole blocks of comedic content here, with 22 of the 42 pilots screening self-identifying as comedies (not to mention all of the animated pilots and the drama and nonscripted pilots that include "comedy" somewhere in their descriptions).
I get why this is the case. There are probably more comedic submissions than anything else because most of the submissions come from the world of Web series, where the funniest shorts are often the ones that survive. So it makes sense to load up on comedy to stiff drama and reality programming (which gets but one lousy block, which ...
One of the nice things about going to a TV festival (as opposed to a film festival) is that it's fairly easy to see almost everything. There are 42 pilots at the NYTVF in four different competitions (comedy, drama, animation, and non-scripted), and between Steve Heisler and me, we'll be able to see all of them. One thing we've both noticed is that a lot of them are less like actual TV pilots and more like crude attempts to stitch together episodes from a Web series until they're 15-20 minutes long and, thus, fit within the time guidelines of the festival. Only a few of the pilots we saw today could easily go on to be on TV, despite all of the grand talk from their creators about how they were ready with series bibles and the like. Worse, most of the pilots don't really seem to be the pilots of TV series but, rather, the opening acts of movies. But that's a problem Hollywood has too.
Also, we'll be blatantly ripping off the usual A.V. Club film festival format, because why not?
Creators/Point of origin/Running time: Justin Dec ...
We sit in front of our computers most of the day, connected to our friends and co-workers by the series of pipes, strings, and nimbostratus zackets called the Internet. Many times per day, things flash before our eyes—videos, photos, songs, sites—that are funny or strange enough to warrant sharing with other people. We salute them with a hearty "Great job, Internet!"
There is a part of me that thinks Beavis And Butt-head was the pinnacle of television. That same part of me also finds this wedding announcement hilarious. I know, it's kinda Jay Leno-level humor, but try to enjoy the Wang-DeCock announcement. Unlike I'm Still Here, this is real life. We wish them all the best. Complete text is here.
The New York Television Festival has been going on for six years, but I'll bet you've never heard of it. The focus of the festival seems to be a seriously watered down version of the Paley Festival in Los Angeles, where the stars and creative personnel of several shows gather to talk about their work to adoring fans. Scheduled during the premiere week of the TV season, the NYTVF does the same, but usually with talent from upcoming shows. This week, there are screenings for Detroit 1-8-7, Luther, and Running Wilde, among others. In addition, there are assorted panels on breaking into show business, the perils of late night TV, and various other bits of TV ephemera. But, outside of a couple of the panels (like the late-night one, which will be covered by our own Steve Heisler), there's nothing here that couldn't be just as easily covered from the comfort of one's own home.
So why cover the NYTVF? Because there's a sideline to the panels that just might be the future of television, that's why.
TV has finally reached a point of enough cultural prominence that even those folks who say ...
I’ll grant that 95% of reality television is a soul-sucking stink-heap, but every now and then, on one of the better reality shows, I see something that reminds me that the genre isn’t inherently awful. Last week’s Project Runway, example, was maybe the best episode in the history of the series. I refer you to John Teti’s keen, funny TV Club write-up for a full recap, but in brief, in the last 20 minutes of the episode, we saw this season’s front-running contestant, Gretchen, go from hailing the magnificence of her team’s collection to calling for solidarity and sympathy when the judges named her team the losers, and then finally to trashing her team’s work openly and almost gleefully. It was a sequence so stunning in its reversals and self-delusion that it was like an astutely written and performed one-act play, and it was a reminder that when reality TV is done right—when it’s cast well, with people who are as colorful and unselfconscious as they are genuinely talented—it can show aspects of real life and that elude most scripted series.
That said, I think what surprised me most about ...
With the first series of A.V. Undercover winding down, I thought it might be nice to offer a closer look at the wall of fame. As the project progressed, bands got more and more bold about their signatures, with Marketa from The Swell Season drawing some elaborate birds and the Cymbals Eat Guitars guys offering up a laser-eyed cat. I also took some shots of the more interesting lyric sheets: Scott from Frightened Rabbit wrote his out by hand on a piece of cardboard, and Mac from Superchunk had the chord changes meticulously placed. The bee, in case you haven't seen it before, belonged to Ted Leo And The Pharmacists--it was a prop from their record-release show that they left here. (Jenn from Wye Oak gave it a hug.)
Via Gawker TV, Providence's local Fox affiliate hosted what qualifies as a) the worst political "interview" in recent memory (yes, including Basil Marceaux), and b) the worst attempt to obnoxiously promote your Christian band via said possibly phony political run. Sing along, everyone! "Arrrrrrrrrrre youuuuuuuuuuuuu looooooooost?"
(Editorial aside: I was raised Catholic, endured four years at a Jesuit high school, and still have family members who are practicing Catholics, and I can't think of anyone who considers going to mass "fun.")
“Mumble mumble shoulder something”: R.E.M., Guided By Voices, Ghostface, and the pleasures of lyrical ambiguity
Though R.E.M.’s 1983 debut, Murmur, has remained in frequent rotation for me over the years, I hadn’t really thought about lead singer Michael Stipe’s lyrics much until recently. Then something happened that made me think about them a bit too much, and made me consider the pleasure of not quite knowing what I was listening to. On a vacation that involved a fair amount of driving, my wife and I took an iPad loaded with our favorite albums and took turns choosing which to play. She selected Murmur, and when it arrived at “Perfect Circle,” a beautiful ballad that’s remained part of R.E.M.’s live set even as other early songs have fallen away, she noted that she had no idea what the words to the chorus were. Neither did I. So I looked it up. I regret that.
It’s not that the words I found, after consulting sites like allthelyrics and metrolyrics were bad. They are, for the record, alternately “Standing too soon, shoulders high in the room” and “Heaven assumed, shoulders high in the room.” It’s just that I’d spent all these years not quite knowing; I ...